(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday stressed the need to respect and take care
of the elderly, saying a society that didn’t do this had no future.
Speaking at his morning Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse the Pope said it was unfortunate that we live in a time where the elderly are not valued and are put to one side because they are considered a nuisance
Listen to Susy Hodges' report...
Pope Francis began his homily by pointing to the example of Eleazar in the Book of Maccabees, an elderly teacher of the law who preferred martyrdom rather than betraying his faith. This man, observed the Pope, was steadfast in his faith and he rejected advice from his friends who urged him merely to pretend to eat a piece of pork in order to save his life. Instead of worrying about his own fate, Eleazar was thinking of the young people who would remember him and his act of courage.
Pope Francis went on to lament how nowadays we live in times when the elderly don’t count. It’s unpleasant to say it, but the elderly are put to one side because they are considered a nuisance. However, the Pope continued, old people are those who tell us the history of things, who carry forward the faith and give it to us to inherit.
To illustrate our treatment of old people, the Pope recalled a story he was told as a young child. He said there was a father, mother and their children and a grandfather. This grandfather got his face dirty when he ate soup which annoyed the father so he bought a separate table for the grandfather to eat at.. But one day the father returned home and saw one of his children playing with bits of wood and on asking his son what he was doing was told that he was building a table for Daddy to eat at when he became old.
The Pope went on to say that a society that does not take care for and respect the elderly does not have a future because it doesn’t have memories. We would do well, he continued, to spare a thought for the many old people living in homes for the aged and, it’s unpleasant to say, for those who have been abandoned by their families. They are the treasure of our society.